The Governor's Residence


1684 Land grant of 412 acres is given to David Morgan.

1776The 13 American colonies declare independence from Great Britain. George Read, Thomas McKean and Caesar Rodney sign the Declaration of Independence on behalf of Delaware.

1777 The Great Seal of Delaware is adopted. [view image of The Great Seal]

Nov. 2, 1784 – Land is sold to Charles Hillyard III.

Dec. 7, 1787Delaware is the first state to ratify the United States Constitution. Delaware’s signers of the Constitution are Richard Bassett, Gunning Bedford, Jr., Jacob Broom, John Dickinson and George Read.

1798Woodburn is built by Charles Hillyard III.

May 8, 1814Martin W. and wife Mary (Hillyard) Bates purchase Woodburn from Charles Hillyard III’s estate for $2,812.

Aug. 4, 1825Daniel Cowgill, Sr. purchases Woodburn from the Bates family for $3,000.

Sep. 15, 1877Edward H. Wilson marries Coralee Cowgill, granddaughter of Daniel Cowgill, in the Great Hall at Woodburn.

1885Woodburn is sold to Edward Warner and Sara Howell Wilson, parents of Edward H. Wilson, for $1.

1886Rear wing of Woodburn is added.

1912Sallie B. Holmes, Edward Wilson’s sister, sells Woodburn to U.S. Senator Daniel O. Hastings for $12,000. Hastings added the wraparound brick porch.

Jul. 24, 1913The current state flag is adopted.

Sep. 12, 1918Sen. Hastings sells Woodburn to Mr. & Mrs. Frank Hall for $18,000.

Sep. 1953Frank Hall sells the house and one and one half acres for $35,000 to Thomas and Elsie Murray, and the remaining land is sold to the Elizabeth Murphy School for $25,000.

1965Woodburn becomes official residence of the governor of Delaware under Governor Charles L. Terry, who oversees interior alterations and renovations. Murray Family sells Woodburn to the state of Delaware for $65,000 for use as the Governor’s official residence. In addition to the purchase price, the State also appropriates $70,000 for renovations and repair work.

Feb.1966Woodburn opens for tours to the public after undergoing renovations.

1970Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Wheatley of Smyrna plant a Dawn redwood tree (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in memory of Governor Terry on the south lawn.

Jan. 1973Governor Sherman W. Tribbett and his family move in and use Woodburn as a primary residence.

Oct. 24, 1974 – Governor Tribbitt plants a Blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) in the front yard.

Jan. 1977Governor Pierre S. du Pont, IV and family occupy Woodburn.

June 1984Governor du Pont plants a flowering Peach tree (Prunus persica) for the center of the driveway circle.

Jan. 1985Governor Michael N. Castle occupies Woodburn as the first bachelor.

April 23, 1987Governor Castle plants a Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) from a tree traceable to one planted at Mount Vernon by George Washington.

May 23, 1992Governor Castle marries Jane DiSabatino while he is still in office, and two American Holly trees (Bride and Groom Trees) are planted behind Woodburn.

Jan. 3, 1993Governor Dale E. Wolf, Lieutenant Governor for Governor Castle, serves as Governor for 17 days while Governor Castle is elected to Delaware’s lone seat in the U.S. Congress.

Jan. 10, 1993Governor and Mrs. Dale Wolf plant a Pink weeping cherry (Prunus subhirtella var. pendula ‘Rosea’).

Jan. 1993Governor Thomas R. Carper and his family occupy Woodburn.

Nov. 18, 1995Governor Russell W. Peterson plants a Snow Fountain cherry tree behind the Hall House.

Jan. 2001Governor Ruth Ann Minner occupies Woodburn as Delaware’s first female governor.

2005The Carpers plant an Eastern Redbud on the eastern corner of the property.

Jan. 2009Governor & Mrs. Markell and their two children, Molly and Michael move into Woodburn.

Jan. 2017 – Governor Carney and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney occupy Woodburn. 

Check out these additional sites to learn more about the history of Delaware:

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